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Currently Browsing: urban fantasy
Dec
15

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep

Review: Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep Spartan Heart Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una loved the Mythos Academy series.  When it concluded, we kept our fingers crossed that Ms. Estep would return to the world.  Our wish came true!  The Mythos Academy spinoff series features Gwen’s (the hero from the original series) cousin, Rory Forseti. This is an intriguing world where mythological creatures, warriors, and gods still exist (and mess with the mortal realm).  Rory, our heroine, is a Spartan.  These warriors are gifted with the ability to pick up anything and know how to kill something with it.  Yes, anything: a sword, a knife, a pencil, a fork, a paperclip, a loose-leaf notebook, etc.  At the end of the Mythos Academy series, Loki was captured and imprisoned by Gwen.  However, Loki’s followers, the Reapers, are not disbanded.  It seems with Loki out of the way, they have found a new leader who has decided to take over the world instead.  Well, unless a new band of heroes stops them. Rory’s character is similar to Gwen in that she is an outsider, smart, strong willed, and determined.  Gwen was an outsider due to her psychometric magic and gypsy background.  Rory, however, is the daughter of two high-ranking Reaper assassins.  Sadly, Rory never knew about her parents’ secret identity, until after they were murdered.  Now, Rory is shunned due to her Reaper parents.  Most people figure she will follow in their footsteps, even though she fought just as hard as Gwen to help stop Loki.   Rory now lives with her Aunt Rachel in Colorado, returning to her original academy and trying to find a small, square patch of normal in her completely upset life. We enjoyed watching Rory try to figure out who the Reaper student is.  It was interesting to watch her befriend the group of young Midgards and find her place among them.  It was touching to see the commonalities between Rory and Ian.  We look forward to watching the romance blossom between them and we have our eye on Aunt Rachel and Takeda.  Of course most of the bad guys got away and we look forward to the next battle in the upcoming untitled book 2. You do not have to have read the previous series, but it does give a stronger background in the mythology and the world.  If you enjoy mythology and young adult adventures with a touch of romance,...
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Dec
8

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost

Review: The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost The Brightest Embers Author: Jeaniene Frost Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: The Brightest Embers is the final novel in the Broken Destiny trilogy.  Although the overall ending was pleasantly surprising and gripping, the constant angst of Ivy and Adrian’s relationship grated. First, the world is fascinating.  Ivy, the last descendent of David (the boy who felled the giant Goliath), has the power and opportunity to recover three ancient and powerful blessed weapons to stop the demons who are trying to take over our world.  Standing in her way is Adrian, the last descendent of Judas, who is destined to betray the descendent of David.  The Romeo and Juliet twist made the destiny of Ivy and Adrian compelling.  They fall in love and yet he is destined to betray her. Adrian was raised by demons.  He is compelled by vengeance to do anything to ensure the demons do not win.  However, his desire for revenge is derailed by his love for Ivy.  He would do anything to protect her.  We don’t know why she is always so surprised when he breaks his word, omits things, or misdirects her in order to keep her safe.  Her mission is to save the world, we get it, but love makes people do crazy (and stupid) things.  For two adults, they sure do act like they are still in high school at times. We love Brutus, the gargoyle.  He’s like a giant flying puppy.  He was a wonderful addition to the group of heroes.  The relationship between Costa and Adrian, though complicated, was touching.  We’re not sure how Jasmine and Costa will fare once the threat of the end of the world is gone.  The novel ends after the conclusion of the final battle leaving much for us to ponder. Although the strife between Ivy and Adrian was frustrating, we liked how the overall story played out.  The ending of this trilogy was satisfying, but we would have enjoyed a little more of an epilogue.  This lack leads us to think and hope that there might be a novella or another story in this world. Our Rating:  B- Liked It, but we had a few small issues About the Book: You can run from your destiny, but you can’t hide  Ivy thought that she and Adrian had conquered their fates. Yet with thousands of innocents still trapped in the demon realms, she’s determined to locate the final hallowed weapon...
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Nov
8

Review: Bayou Born by Hailey Edwards

Review: Bayou Born by Hailey Edwards Bayou Born Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Bayou Born is the first title in Ms. Edwards’ new Foundling series. This urban fantasy is the stuff dreams are made of, people. I…can’t even start to explain. Edwards does a beautiful job of unraveling the world she created and I really don’t want to give anything away—or take away the reveals 🙂 The humor in this book KILLED ME. *ded* “‘Playing beard for your covert meeting beats sitting around the house under a magnifying glass.’” “Well, that answered my question. Wrap his hips with animal pelts, pass the man a club, and Cole would be a Neolithic dream come true. Good thing I wasn’t sleeping much these days.” With other terms like lady-junk, birth cannon—along with a bajillion others I didn’t mark—I spend a good amount of time trying to not do a spit-take while reading this smart and sexy title. In reading Bayou Born, I got a great introduction to Luce and her coterie—and I can’t wait to read MORE. This first title merely whet my appetite for more of the Foundling series. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Her beginning may be our end . . .  Deep in the humid Mississippi bayou, a half-wild child is dragged from the murky waters. She has no memories, no family and is covered in mysterious markings. Adopted by the policeman who rescued her, Luce Boudreau follows him onto the force, determined to prove herself in the eyes of those who are still suspicious. However, there’s more of a battle ahead than Luce could possibly imagine. She may be an orphan without a past, but no one – including Luce herself – could ever be prepared for the truth of her dark, powerful destiny . . . Release Date: October 17, 2017 Publisher: Piatkus Books Series: Foundling #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): paperback (336 pages), e-book Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley Purchase Info:...
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Nov
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Charley Davidson Series Title: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Charley Davidson #12 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Macmillan Audio Note: this review contains spoilers from earlier books in the series, to include the surprising ending of the previous book. Opening three days after the explosive conclusion of Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, Charley is searching for her husband-turned-malevolent-god, Rey’azikeen. No longer Reyes after his short jaunt into the god glass hell dimension, Rey’azikeen is loose and Charley has been given one more day to find and stop him before Jehovah sends his army to capture him. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave is a wonderful addition to this crazy, hilarious series. Overall, the story is shorter and far more direct than previous titles (well, as direct as Charley Davidson can be). Each strand of the plot is clear and makes sense, and then Ms. Jones expertly draws them all together to create a larger picture as the book progresses. Charley uses her wit and cunning, along with her team of friends, to solve multiple cases that seem unrelated, but ultimately tie in loose ends or come together by the end of the book. I love how free Charley is in this book – she’s back. The whole “do I trust Reyes or not” issue seems to FINALLY be put to rest as Charley struggles with the very real possibility she may lose the love of her life forever this time. She goes from moment to moment, bringing readers and listeners along for one crazy ride. The convoluted subplots are absent, leaving behind a solid story with a bring big twist at the end. Additionally, the continuity issues I’ve noted in the past are either gone, or irrelevant because the rest of the story runs so smoothly. Finally, while the author does do some info dumping, it’s in the form of children’s books, and scattered throughout the story, rather than at the very end. Lorelei King, my all-time favorite narrator, continues to capture Charley’s unique and crazy personality, easily jumping from one subject to the next without pause. She has mastered Charley’s sarcasm and sincerity, her passion and her fury. I think the only reason I can keep up with Charley’s ADD lifestyle is due to Ms. King’s masterful performance. And it’s not just Charley, but Ms. King provides a large range of unique voices for...
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Oct
24

Review: Rock Candy by Devon Monk

Review: Rock Candy by Devon Monk Rock Candy Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Rock Candy is a delightful novella that centers on Jean and her new beau, the baker Hogan.  Gikany and Una enjoyed this spooky seasonal read.  How could you not enjoy a romantic tromp complete with a curse, zombie gnomes, and Death stopping by to visit?!? Ms. Monk has created a unique and fascinating world set in Ordinary, Oregon.  For fans of the series, you won’t want to miss this chance of seeing Ordinary from the youngest Reed sister’s eyes.  Though Jean loves Halloween, there is one aspect that is trying – the October gnome-sitting.  For some reason, there is a curse that brings the gnomes to life every October 1st through October 31st.  It is always the responsibility of a Reed sister to ensure that the trouble the gnomes get into is minimized (if possible) and kept from the humans who are NOT in the know.  However this Halloween, the curse is ramped up due to a zombie infection that is moving through the gnomes.  Not to mention Death shows up partly for work (someone it seems will die) but also to experience the Halloween Harvest festival. This novella was a riot to read.  One of our favorite parts was the “five stages of zombie grief: denial, acceptance, hunger, more hunger, and knock-knock jokes.”  It was priceless!  Though the story moved quickly, we enjoyed how Jean chases down the (ahem) head gnome all while trying to figure out if this six-month dating anniversary with Hogan is a good milestone or an ominous one. Her inexperience with long-term relationships coupled with her own insecurities was heartening. Not only do we learn more about her personality, but also about her ability.  We hope this is not the only story told from her point of view. All in all, Rock Candy is a fabulous Halloween novella from the intriguing world of Ordinary, Oregon.  It’s a must read for fans and would be a fun introduction to those that won’t mind some mild spoilers from the previous three novels.  Gikany and Una eagerly await the next novel in the Ordinary Magic series. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Just An Ordinary Halloween…  Police officer Jean Reed doesn’t normally mind pulling the graveyard shift in Ordinary Oregon, the sleepy little beach town where gods vacation and monsters reside. But October in Ordinary is anything but...
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Oct
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries Familiar Motives Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I continue to enjoy the Witch’s Cat Mystery series.  The combination of Ms. James’s words and Ms. Arsenault’s voice create a delightful Mystery audiobook a la Hallmark. This latest whodunit was gripping and fun. Though I’m starting to fear that Anna is a long lost relative of Mrs. Fletcher and no one should want to be near her (okay, this horribly dates me but I loved Murder She Wrote as a child), Anna’s genuine kindness more than makes up for the murders that seem to occur around her.  In this book, Anna’s veterinarian is unfortunately murdered while cat-sitting the town’s famous feline: Ruby (aka Attitude Cat), the spokes-cat for the Best Pet Store cat food, treats, toys etc. line.  Unfortunately Anna and her friend (and fellow coven sister) Kenisha find Ramona’s body but are unable to find Ruby.  Between Ruby’s owners bitter custody battle, Attitude Cat’s publicist’s strange behavior, and Ramona’s own witch family’s strangeness, it was a guess who was the murderer and why. I enjoyed how the story twisted and turned.  Though I was able to narrow down the why, the exact who was a surprise for me this time.  I liked how Anna was better at following rules and being safe during this investigation.  It was fascinating to watch and learn how difficult it is for Kenisha to be both a witch and a police officer.  She has to toe the line between the unexplainable truth and proof in the court of law.  I felt Anna was better at keeping her feet on both sides of the line and ensuring that Kenisha wasn’t left on the sidelines by the coven.  The relationships of the women are just as strong an element in this series as the clues.  It all contributes to the coziness of this mystery series.  Not to mention the slow burning romance between Anna and a certain young bartender. I feel that no one but Ms. Arsenault could narrate this series.  Her voices and personality truly bring the characters (both human and furry) and this world in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to life.  I enjoy the audio so much, I prefer to listen to this series, rather than read it. I eagerly look forward to the...
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Oct
12

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Ghoul Vendetta by Lisa Shearin Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Ghoul Vendetta Author: Lisa Shearin Narrator: Johanna Parker Audio Speed: 1.25x + 1.5x Series: SPI Files #4 Source: Audible/purchased SPI agent Makenna Fraser points out that bad stuff always seems to happen around her, and she’s not kidding. The Ghoul Vendetta opens with Mak and Goblin Lord Rake Danescu on a yacht in the Hudson, along side several of the supernatural world’s bigwigs, when it is attacked by a kraken and other sea creatures. What is even more strange is that no one is hurt and everyone is left alone as soon as their target, a vampire mob boss, is kidnapped. Soon after, a familiar foe turns up, robbing banks and threatening Mak’s partner, Ian. Now it’s up to SPI to find the connection and stop a terrible enemy. As a fan of the SPI Files from the beginning, I am sad to say that The Ghoul Vendetta held several issues for me. First, I was disappointed that the first five to six chapters are almost entirely review of the previous three books; explaining the world and highlighting major events. I appreciate that the author takes care to do this, but by the fourth chapter, I was ready for things to move forward. And once again, throughout the book, there is so much repetition. Mak will remark on who a character is or what they like or do a more than once in the book. Another issue I’m struggling with is the relationship between partners Mak and Ian. Yes, I was disappointed when the author chose to keep Mak and Ian platonic friends, but I was glad to see she gave them each a love interest. After the conclusion of the previous book, I was looking forward to seeing Mak and Rake together. However, for much of the book, the story once again focuses on how close Mak and Ian are – but how they are only friends. I’m not buying it. Mak shows way more affection for Ian than her supposed boyfriend, Rake. If the author wants me to buy into the “just partners,” and view Rake as a love interest, then she needs to invest time in the romance. There was some of this in the last parts of the The Ghoul Vendetta, but honestly, it felt awkward and out of place since we really haven’t seen Rake and Mak together other than a few casual...
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Oct
10

Review: Sorrow’s Son by Rene Sears

Review: Sorrow’s Son by Rene Sears Sorrow’s Son Author: Rene Sears Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Sorrow’s Son picks up shortly after where Strangehold ended. Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I did enjoy this next installment of the continuing collision of two different dimensions. When I initially picked up this series, I thought (mistakenly) that Morgan would be the main character POV through the series.  This isn’t the case.  Though I really enjoy Morgan, this older witch and the romantic tension between her and Rowan, I was surprised by how fascinated I was with Javier.  It was fairly easy to figure out who Javier is, but it was not easy to figure out what his mother’s family is.  I hope we learn more about this branch of his family. If you thought you knew where the story was going to go, trust me you don’t.  I was surprised and intrigued by all the different ways the story twisted.  We were introduced to different aspects of Strangehold.  I enjoyed watching Javier relax and trust Morgan and the group.  However, I worry about the ramifications some of Javier’s choices will lead.  He has had enough hardship and I hope this path is one that will lead him to happier places. Through this novel we learned more about Igraine and Iliesa. Seeing their magic use through Javier’s eyes was fascinating and I eagerly anticipant the next novel as it seems to be from their point of view.  So much happened in this novel, connections broken and people twisted – I hold on to hope that divisions can be healed without the blood sacrifice that seems to be implied. If you enjoy urban fantasy with Fae and witches, you might really want to pick up this intriguing Crossroads of Worlds series.  Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I found it engrossing and intriguing.  The plot moved in unexpected ways with fascinating twists.  I eagerly look forward to finding out what happens next. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Orphaned during the Savannah Flu, Javier is looking for other spellcasters without knowing if any survived. When he finds a caster named Morgan and her nieces, Igraine and Iliesa, he has to hide the secret of his isolated upbringing, desperate not to alienate the only community he has left. But Igraine and Iliesa have secrets of their own. The wild hunt comes to the mortal world seeking them. Why the Queen of...
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Oct
2

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill

Review: The Hunt by Chloe Neill The Hunt Author: Chloe Neill Reviewer: Jen Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Picking up about five weeks after the intense conclusion of the previous book, The Hunt opens with our heroine, the Sensitive Claire, in hiding with Para Moses. Unfortunately, Liam, her boyfriend who was struck by magic in that battle, went into hiding with his grandmother, Eleanor. Even though Claire refuses to ask the resistance leader Malachi about Liam, she is worried for him and misses him. However, their enemy in Containment, Jack Broussard, is dead and the top suspect is Liam. So Claire, Gavin (Liam’s brother), and Malachi head out to find Liam, risking their own safety for the good of the resistance. Devil’s Isle is a solid urban fantasy series set in an alternate world where Paranormal beings have invaded Earth through a breach known as the Veil. The attacking Paras are of a faction that wants to overthrow the existing, peaceful faction in the Beyond. However, most humans see all Para as bad, and fight against any and all magic. The story of The Hunt relies heavily upon the preceding events; therefore, I do not recommend reading it as a standalone story or starting the series with this title. Overall, I still enjoy Claire’s story and the battle to protect New Orleans and the Earth. However, I was disappointed with The Hunt. While I didn’t dislike the overall plot, I found I had difficulty connecting with Claire and pieces of the story. In the previous two books, I was fully engaged, because each character had much to offer. I loved the mystery surrounding Claire’s mother and the budding romance between characters. But this time around, I felt like I was just watching events unfold, rather than participating through Claire. The first third of The Hunt moves slowly, and I felt like we didn’t get into any real story as the trio looks for Liam. There are hints at the eventual storyline, but the interactions with the Paras at the Plantation seemed extraneous, and I felt like that whole journey could have taken a lot less book space. Things pick up after Liam comes back into the fold, but the atmosphere of the group changed dramatically from the previous books. The group is on the run now, Liam is ice-cold, Claire can’t go back to her shop, and some of Claire’s close friends have smaller roles. These changes are all necessary as the storyline develops,...
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Sep
11

Review: How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards

Review: How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards How to Save an Undead Life Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Hailey Edwards has a new series out!!! **muppet flail happy dance** I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my grubby little hands on How to Save an Undead Life since Ms. Edwards announced the project and started dropping hints. This is the first of three (currently) planned titles in the Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series, and I’m already all grabby hands for book two. We’ve got some awesome vampire lore here, and the world is well-developed so it’s easy to see the hierarchy. First, supporting characters. Boaz: this guy is Grier’s bestie’s big bro and her long-time crush—I definitely see something happening here down the road, in the series arc.  Woolly: the house, you guys…I love its personality and I think it plays a pretty significant role as Grier’s safety net. Amelie: Grier’s bestie and Boaz’s sister who lives next door with her parents. Neely: Grier’s personal designer (i.e., he does her hair and makeup for work and personal stuff when she needs a spectacular look) has a purpose (beyond the obvious) I haven’t quite figured out yet. Volkov: this dude? I’m pretty sure we’ll see more of him. Linus: dude makes me antsy. I really love Grier. The way her character was fleshed out in this first book of the series was engaging and I was able to connect with her immediately. This is a first person POV—which I sometimes have trouble reading/getting into—and I think this deep, personal POV was really effective for the story. This girl has every reason to be sitting under her kitchen table, rocking back and forth, having the BIGGEST pity party for herself, but she has that kick-ass-and-take-names attitude I admire in so many of Ms. Edwards’ characters. She’s not a wilting damsel in distress waiting for her hero to rescue her—except in dire situations. Grier has managed to win me over in book one of the series because she’s a problem-solver. While she was locked up for five years in paranormal prison, she’s been exonerated and has returned to her old life. Sort of—you’ll find out when you read it. I’m super stoked to learn more about the supporting characters and see where Ms. Edwards takes us on Grier’s journey in the Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Grier Woolworth spends her nights weaving spooky tales...
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